Question on Strange American Wigeon Seen on Oak Hill Walk

(The following is copied from SanDiegoRegionBirding Yahoo Group)

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Hybrid duck at Oak Hill Cemetery: Am Widgeon x Wood Duck?
Posted by: ciderpressc
Date: Sun Feb 1, 2015 10:31 am ((PST))

A little help please, Gary Nunn, or Matt or Paul or anyone else. During the Palomar Aud. Oak Hill Cemetery walk yesterday, we found a very interesting variant wigeon among a flock of Am. Wigeon. See photo by Daniele Paccaloni here: Oak Hill Cemetery 20150131 If the link takes you to the whole gallery, look at the 12th image particularly (FA2T8717.jpg), also the 11th.

There are at least two birds showing extended green sweeping down the full back of the head. The bird to the right-center of image 12 shows the green feathering extending beyond the neck in a way reminiscent of the back-sweptcrest of the male wood duck. Also note the white ‘outline’ striping patternon the face, which is almost identical in shape to the white face outline of a male wood duck. Another individual in image 12 (left-center) shows the extended green head feathers, but not the other markings

I think we’ve got two AM. Wigeon x Wood Duck hybrids. Concur? Dispute? Opinions?

Caron Andregg

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Re: Hybrid duck at Oak Hill Cemetery: Am Widgeon x Wood Duck?
Posted by: “Gary Nunn” gbnunn
Date: Sun Feb 1, 2015 8:23 pm ((PST))

Hi Caron,

These types of male American Wigeon are natural color variants which are seen at a low frequency in the population.  Duck hunters refer to them as “Storm Wigeon” and many examples can be found online Google searching that term.  Some show a very bright cream colored face sometimes with an irregular line present.  It just seems to be variations on a head color morph pattern which is rare in the population.  One in every hundred or so males seems to look like this.

They do of course look quite striking among the heads of normally darker peppered males.

Gary Nunn,
Pacific Beach

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